2015 was one of the happiest years that I have been blessed with in a long time. My husband and I made a huge decision to sell our business and as of January 1, 2015 our lives almost instantly changed for the better. Without the stress of a business we are able to focus more on our careers, our home, and, of course, our children. Without the stress of the business we both feel happier, healthier, and we are better able to cope with other stress in our lives. We smile more, laugh more, sleep more, relax more…the list goes on and on. Most importantly, however, we have been given back the gift of TIME. Time that should be used to live a happier life.

Prior to last year, I was definitely aware that our business was making our lives more difficult than maybe they should be but it was, essentially, what it was. My life chugged along with this massive commitment being just one more thing on my list of responsibilities. The business did not keep us from having a third child, me completing another advanced degree, or me volunteering my time for committees or organizations related to my kids. People would often say, “you’ve got too much on your plate” or “how do you have time to do all of this?” and I would laugh them off. I figured, this was adult life. This is what adults did. Adults worked hard, filled their days, and managed stress as best they could. I had almost every hour of our days, including weekends, filled with responsibilities. My husband and I split time needed to run the business and many weekends were spent with us barely seeing each other. We each had time with the kids but usually it was because the other was running the store.

On January 1, 2015 we woke up no longer business owners. By February 1st it finally hit us…THIS is what our lives should have been like all of these years. THIS is what it means to be happy. THIS is good. All of the free time we suddenly had! It was simply amazing and I couldn’t (and still can’t) get used to it. As the year wore on life just kept getting better. We took our first real family vacation. We were away from home for ten days. As business owners we never would have been able to leave for so long and be so far away. We began working on our almost one hundred-year-old house. We had lived in the house for nearly ten years and had done nothing but slap some paint on the walls to make it our own. With each room we renovate and with each project I complete I’m loving my old house more and more. We get to say “yes” to our kids more often. We take them out for breakfast on Sunday mornings. We take them to see movies. We watch family friendly shows together, cuddled up on the couch. We simply spend more time together enjoying each other.

As my life got easier and happier I began to also realize that yes, I do have too much on my plate. With the business gone I was given back hours and hours a week of my time. Now that I have those hours back, I want the rest. I’ve realized that my time is, indeed, precious. Instead of filling hours outside of work with various commitments and responsibilities, I should be filling them with fun, relaxation, and activities that bring me nothing but joy (like writing!). I work extremely hard for my job and I deserve my evenings and weekends with my kids and my husband. I deserve to fill that time with…whatever I want!

2015 was a happy year. I’m determined to make 2016 even better. So, I’m saying “no” to things that made me tired and busy. I’m saying “no” to activities that don’t help me grow as a person. I’m saying “no” to commitments that take me away from my family and provide no benefit back to them. Instead I’m saying a wholehearted “YES!” to anything that makes me happy and energized and directly benefits my family. I am taking back my time and I will make that time count.